The National Weather Service (NWS) is using automated launchers instead of human employees to deploy weather balloons in Alaska.
What they do: At the push of a button, the balloons can be automatically filled, checked, and deployed by NWS office employees. Once aloft, they send back information needed for worldwide weather forecasts.
By the numbers: Two Alaskan weather stations have gotten robotic launchers so far. Eleven more will be receiving them by 2020. Each costs $1.2 million but will end up saving $1 million a year.
Not good for workers: Employee hours at remote weather offices have already been slashed because of budget cuts. And with the arrival of auto-launchers, what were three-person teams at each station will be reduced to just one, whose job it will be to hold down the fort and reload the machine. Everyone else will be relocated and retrained. As Kimberly Vaughan, a union steward in Juneau, Alaska, told Science, “The autolauncher is just another nail in [remote weather stations’] coffin.”
This story first appeared in our future of work newsletter, Clocking In. Sign up here!
What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.
“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.
Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats
With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure
Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation
From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.